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Who Could Replace Bill And Chris Polian? We Have A List

I'd like to give a special tip to reader MrN1519 for FanPosting an article from Albert Breer at about football executives who could get new jobs with new teams in 2012. It's a great article for those of you who often ask, OK, if Irsay fires Bill Polian and his two useless sons, who could replace them?

If I could go back in time with you for a bit, one of the most annoying moments this year was when Jeff Saturday acted like a jackoff after we correctly quoted him following the 62-7 loss to the Saints. While Jeff was senselessly ranting against momma's boy bloggers to the Tennessee media, I was in the process of writing a very long article about possible replacements for Bill and Chris Polian.

I mean, after your team loses 62-7 on Sunday Night Football, it's time to start thinking about a change at the top.

I never got a chance to finish the article because I had to spend time responding to Saturday, which was oh so much fun, let me tell ya. Then, all other sorts of news broke relating to the team, and I just never got back to the article. With Breer's excellent breakdown of several possible G.M. candidates, I now have an excuse to go back to my drafts (our article creation system at SB Nation saves all our drafts... I have over 200!) and plug in some pieces so that the work I did on that piece does not go completely to waste.

In Breer's article, he mentions five executives that I had singled out in my draft writeup six weeks ago: Ravens director of player personnel Eric De Costa, Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie, Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, Titans V.P. of player personnel Ruston Webter, and Bills assistant general manager Doug Whaley. After the jump, my thoughts on how these five men could (and should) replace Bill Polian and his son, Chris, in the Colts front office.

Bills Assistant G.M. Doug Whaley

I'll start with Bill assistant G.M. Doug Whaley. Here's how Breer describes him:

Whaley's considered the future in Buffalo, working now at the side of Buddy Nix. The roster has improved greatly of late, despite the team's recent swoon, due to Nix and Whaley's ability to turn over every rock to find talent. Just as important, Whaley was raised in the Steeler system, so he has strong knowledge of what a championship team looks like.

Here's what I wrote about him: Whaley worked with [current Steelers G.M. Kevin] Colbert and [Bill] Cowher in Pittsburgh back in the day, and is considered a rising star as a player personnel exec. He was once pro scouting coordinator for the Steelers. Carl Peterson was the president of the Chiefs back when Cowher was the defensive coordinator in KC and Tony Dungy was the defensive backs coach. Peterson seems itchin' to get back into the NFL, and he has close ties to the city of Indianapolis. Personally, I don't think having Peterson as a 'team president' would work. Rather, Cowher should have authority much the same way Bill Belichick rules the roost in New England while Peterson would act as Cowher's chief football adviser much the same way former Titans G.M. Floyd Reese currently works with the Patriots.

Whaley is a great option for those hoping Jim Irsay can lure Bill Cowher to Indianapolis. Cowher will want roster control, but he won't be able to do the day-to-day operations a G.M. must do. Thus, a partnership with Whaley, who would, presumably, get a promotion to G.M. in Indianapolis, would work. The other option I mention in there is Carl Peterson in a football adviser role.

Ravens Director Of Player Personnel Eric De Costa

Hiring someone like De Costa would be a huge coup. He is a big-time name in the NFL executive ranks, and viewed as a future 'star' G.M.


DeCosta has been a top-of-the-list GM candidate for a half-decade now, but it'll take an enormous opportunity for the 40-year-old to uproot. His wife is from Baltimore, and he's seen colleagues go elsewhere and find browner pastures. Plus, if such an opportunity doesn't come, he's content to wait and succeed Ozzie Newsome as Baltimore GM.

The trick to luring De Costa to Indianapolis would involve giving him near total control of the roster, a significant raise, and the power to hire the head coach. Unlike Chris Polian, who has a job and title higher than De Costa in Indianapolis solely because he is Bill Polian's son, De Costa has earned his job based on the merits. The Ravens have drafted people like Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, Torrey Smith, and Ray Rice in recent years while maintaining a truly ferocious defense. De Costa is a big reason for Baltimore's success, and he is due to take over a franchise.

One of the coaches De Costa could be paired up with is Lovie Smith (who might get fired in Chicago). Or, De Costa would bring over current Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.

Giants Director Of College Scouting Marc Ross

I have always been a big Marc Ross fan. Exactly three years ago TODAY, I wrote this article for Arrowhead Pride, recommending that Ross should replace the outgoing president of the Chiefs, Carl Peterson. KC opted for Scott Pioli, instead.

Ross, like De Costa, is a young, rising 'star.'

From Breer:

The 38-year-old has put together an impressive run of draft classes since joining the Giants in 2007, and was in the mix for the Seattle GM position when Pete Carroll was hired as coach in 2010. Ross was once the league's youngest college director, at 27 years old in Philly, and has a Princeton degree, which is sure to please the business side of an organization.

The Giants draft record in recent years has indeed been very impressive. And, hey, just like the Colts, they've been drafted late in rounds as well. Unlike the Colts, they haven't been busting their picks. Hakeem Nicks (taken immediately after Donald Brown in '09), Mario Manningham, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kenny Phillips, Terrell Thomas, Jonathan Goff, Steve Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Aaron Ross have all been drafted in recent years. All are either stars on the team, or are contributing (or have contributed) in significant ways. Ross and the Giants have also been great at finding undrafted talent, like Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard.

Ross seems especially good at finding young talent to work in a 4-3 Blitz defense, a scheme that has worked very well for the Giants in recent years and could work well in Indianapolis. Ross also has ties to Steve Spagnuolo, who will likely be fired as the head coach of the Rams. 'Spags' was the coach most responsible for the Giants winning Super Bowl XLII. The defense he coordinated that year absolutely smothered the then-undefeated Patriots that day. For those hoping Spags could land in Indy s either the head coach or as a defensive coordinator, Ross would be a great executive to pair with him.

Titans V.P. Of Player Personnel Ruston Webter

Webster is another executive I wrote about in my article for Arrowhead Pride four years ago. I don't think he's as good as guys like Ross or De Costa, but he's still good candidate.


Quietly, Tennessee has built a solid roster, seems to have found the right mix at quarterback and has ridded itself of troubled players without a big talent dropoff. Seattle's interim GM before John Schneider was hired, Webster was part of that the past two years, and part of Tampa Bay's late-1990s/early-2000s rebuilding, and has a wealth of pro and college scouting experience.

Webster is an intriguing name for folks interested in seeing Jon or Jay Gruden coach in Indianapolis. Webster used to work for Jon (who had roster control) in Tampa Bay ten years ago. Everywhere Webster has gone, the overall talent on the roster has gotten better. He seems especially good at getting players on defense who mesh well in a 4-3 system.

Webster was also a scout in Tampa Bay when Tony Dungy was the coach there.

Packers Director Of Football Operations Reggie McKenzie

McKenzie is the big name all NFL teams will probably try and lure away from the Packers. Ted Thompson probably gets too much credit for the talent in Green Bay. Reggie McKenzie, a former player turned executive (which is rare), deserves some props as well.


He might be the most attractive candidate on the market, with the Packers' success, and his 25 years of NFL experience. A former player, McKenzie started his run in personnel with the Packers back in 1994, and worked his way up. His ties to former Green Bay GM Ron Wolf have many believing he'll wind up getting the job in Oakland.

Again, unlike Chris Polian, Reggie McKenzie has actually earned his title and job status. He's been with the Packers personnel department since they won their Super Bowl with Brett Favre. He's seen the highs and lows of the franchise and, more importantly, he's seen the transition from one superstar QB to another.

That's experience that could greatly assist the Colts as the transition from Peyton Manning to, potentially, Andrew Luck.


Breer's article mentions several other excellent executives, but the five I have highlighted here were the ones I had planned to write about two months ago. For me, anyone of these men are a significant upgrade over the Polians, especially Chris Polian (who is the person Bill wants to cede total roster authority to).

Again, one thing I will continue to stress is that all these men have earned their reputations based on the merits. They aren't the son or nephew of anyone currently controlling an NFL team. If the Colts are truly an 'elite' NFL organization, these are the kinds of people they should be looking to bring on board to run their front office. Not Bill Polian's friggin kids.

Breer says his list 'was compiled with the input of a group of NFL executives with their fingers on the pulse of league personnel departments.' You'll notice that the name 'Chis Polian' appears nowhere on that list.